Category Archives: swimming


This One Time, At Band Camp

The other night, the hubs and I were watching the Olympic high platform diving. NBC was demonstrating how their dive camera conveyed the speed at which those ridiculously high dives took place. I turned to the the hubs and said, “This one time, in band camp… I jumped off the high platform.”


A few years after band camp, the hubs and I fostered a long standing friendship with Dave and Elisabeth. We became best friends with them when we lived four blocks apart and we’d show up at their house every Sunday (or Friday or Tuesday) with a bucket of beer. Not one of those puny restaurant buckets, mind you, this was a plastic five gallon bucket of beer.

At the time, Dave and I worked for the same company. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent sharing stories around the water cooler between fighting “fires” at work. My stories almost always started with “Once, in band camp…”

So, can you imagine how hysterical we were when American Pie came out?

Just to be clear, none of my stories included a flute. After all, I played the flag. (Only the color guard will get that)

Still, to this day, Dave and other non-band geeks don’t understand band camp. Band camp was awesome. I only spent one week out of my Sophomore to Senior summers at Central Michigan University band camp but I came away with a lifetime of memories. I’ll never play the flag (or clarinet) professionally but when the Olympic divers get on the high dive platform, I know what it is like to stand there and look down at that teeny, tiny pool below and still have the guts to jump.

Oh, and this one time, at band camp…oh, you’ll just have to wait until next time to find out.


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I Needed That

I anticipated that I was going to have a great run…. The jury is in….that run was WAY better than I had anticipated.


Part I – Heat and humidity – It’s difficult to delay a start time when you’ve been anticipating running all day long.  AT 7 pm, I could no longer hope that the heat index would drop to a reasonable level.  Even with the heat, the anticipation put a spring to my step.  It felt like one of those times when I’m playing with the kids in the yard and they are chasing me with water balloons.  I replayed that visual because it was just fun to imagine the boys chasing me over the bridge armed with latex bombs.  In time, I decided that it was wiser to discard the image or I might find myself running home to bombard myself with water balloons just to escape the sweltering conditions.   

Part II – Beast – Oh, yes, I let the beast out.  I ran.  I leaped.  I took turns at dangerous speeds and angles.  I dodged vehicles (not literally, so you can relax).  When I wanted to go faster I just did it.  I laughed in the face of danger (stones and rocks).  I conquered the urban jungle.  I was the monkey, the eagle, and the lion.    

On good thing about not running with a garmin or a watch is that when you perceive yourself as running fast, you get to go on believing that you were.  You can’t take the wind out of your own sails by checking the digital information and discovering that you, actually, were slow.  Without the digital data, I can keep my runner’s high intact.  

Part III – Play Ball –   Recently, The Urban Runner challenged us to climb a tree during our runs.  As I, the beast, entered the park, I began prospecting for my challenge tree.  Howbeit, the prospecting was short-lived. 

Which tree?

This plentiful park hosts our little league baseball fields.  Empty baseball fields flood my mind with childhood memories.   I was lured to the field to relive a particular memory.  Like Fields of Dreams, I entered a different time and place when I passed through the fence opening.

My Field of Dreams

I swaggered up to home plate staring down the pitcher.  (I ignored the real life guy that drove up in the truck looking at me strangely).  I got into my batter’s stance.  The pitch came in to the sweet spot.  I swiftly swung and hit that imaginary ball over the heads of the outfielders.  I took off for 1st as the ball rolled out to the fence.  I headed to 2nd where a glance toward the outfield told me I could make it to third.   I took a wide turn around 3rd and knew I could stretch this baby to a homer.  One hard smack of my foot on home plate brought the team out of the dug out as I cheerfully jogged back.  Illusory high fives were given as a big smile sat upon my face.   

Then I made a loop through the out field.  The other team’s number three batter was up.  I had to be on my toes.  Wasting no time, the fictional batter hit a hard one.  It was high in the air making a long arc over the infield.  I kept my eye on it.  Running. Running.  It was between me and the center fielder.  I locked my visual on it.  Kept. My. Eye… mit out, opened, my feet pounded the grass.  I moved by instinct.  There was no need for thinking.  I stretched further, leaned… then smack.  Two inches from the ground the ball was encapsulated in my mit.  I totally robbed that batter of a spectacular triple hitter.  Who-Ya!

Back to the tree climbing, I put one barefoot on a couple of trees but didn’t feel ready to master them.  Maybe next time.

After a home run and an outfield steal.

Part IV – Walk – No matter how much I intend to run the entire time when I go smiley I walk.  Turns out, I don’t care that I walked a portion of my run.  It still felt good.  I picked my feet back up after a while but only as I felt like it. 

Part V – Pool –  Sweet delightful cool water (89 deg F) after a humid, hot, but utterly delightful run.  I really enjoy swimming in my running gear. 

Five different parts adding up to one heck of a smiley run that went way beyond my expectations.  Boy, did I need that.  I might not even bite anyone’s head off at work today.

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A Grand Summer Run

Parameters of a Grand Summer Smiley Run
Day: Wednesday
State: Illinois
Temperature: 86 deg F
Time: 7:45 pm – 8:10 pm
Shoes: None
Outfit: so little you’d call it a swim suit
Route: 75 ft circle

You’re asking yourself how a 75 ft circle could be a smiley run. If you aren’t, you should be.

Resistance: 4 ft of water
Water temperature: 92 deg F

So, yes, I was wearing a swimsuit.

I created one heck of a whirl pool for the kids on Wednesday night. I ran hard in the hot pool for at least 20 minutes. It was like a workout I’d never gotten before. My legs ached like I’d run 10 miles when I went to bed. The kids had so much fun playing in the whirlpool current that I smiled every minute of that run.

Who says you have to run on pavement or dirt? Isn’t summer grand?

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Visitors From A Foreign Land

I’m more tired then a… then a … then a… Ok. I’m tired, let’s just leave it at that. Sunday, my husband’s cousin paid us a visit from Latvia and brought his daughter (and his mother who lives in the States) to meet her cousins for the first time. We spent a quantity of quality time with them.

Before they arrived my mind was a whirl of ideas for showing Meitena what American life is like.  I wanted to take her to Route 66…

Flat Stanley Visits Route 66

and show her the Gemini Giant…

Flat Stanley and The Gemini Giant

For sure we needed to go for ice cream….take a look at the river…visit the boys’ school…bike ride to the park…

In the end, we were just plain tuckered out so, we just showed Meitena a great day in an American home.  Meitena could hardly wait to get into the pool.  She tugged at her dad’s arm during the house tour until he relented.  Formalities mean nothing to a child excited to jump into four feet of wonder.  Once she was in, it was hard to get her out.

We also took them out to dinner at our favorite local restaurant.  Hayden’s Crossing is a marvelous place to eat.  Don’t pass on the pub sticks, the side of veggies, or the mashed potatoes.  Although, it is hard to find room for all of it in my tummy.

Then the kids had a little Sunday drive around the yard.  The gator was given to us about six years ago as a hand-me-down present.  They are really too big for it but they don’t stop driving it.

Hey, hey. You. You. Get into my car.

I didn’t manage a trip to the ice cream shop but, lucky for Meitena, my BIL had delivered my favorite Plainwell Ice Cream from back home just the day before.  I could almost run all the way home for a scoop of their ice cream.  It’s hard to pick one favorite flavor when they have so many delightful ones.  At the top of my list is Chocolate Hazelnut, Pumpkin, Mint Chocolate Chip, Butter Pecan, Lemon Chiffon… maybe I had better save that for another post… Bonus for me that PIC can travel three hours in a car then refreeze like the master ice cream it is.

After ice cream, K-man and Meitena rode up and down the block on our bikes.  Soon, even with the glow necklaces on, it got too dark for riding so they took a late night dip in the pool.  Glow necklaces are always a big hit at night, but they are an even bigger hit in the pool at night.  It took me a while to convince K-man that the hot water of the pool (92 deg F) would not ruin them.

Late night swim by the glow of a necklace

Not willing to let the party end so early, the kids hung out in the family room watching their favorite Disney pre-teen episodes.  Meitena was delighted to get to watch new episodes.  The boys were delighted to stay up until 10:30 pm.  They were not so delightful the next day.

Bedtime wind down

In hind sight, I’m a little sorry I didn’t show her Route 66, but I’ve never seen three kids become such good friends so fast despite some language barriers. Meitena’s English is pretty good but the boys only know a few greetings in Latvian.

The cousin kept us up all hours of the night solving the world’s problems.  I still managed to roll out of bed the next morning to go for another  3 mile VFF run.  The Aunt was up early too and surprised to not only find me awake but sweaty to boot.  Although it was tiring, I could not resist the cool morning air and clear skies (no orange, no green).

Some day, we’ll make the long trip back to the motherland.  I love to travel and really feel a need for the boys to connect with their paternal heritage.  In addition to going over seas again, I plan to visit all 50 states.  So, it got me thinking… if I was visiting your town or your state (or country), what would you show me?

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Going In The Water

Our merry little group imposed upon residents of homes across the lake during a fiery 4th of July for some refreshments. We ladies stood ankle-deep in the cooling water. Each of us holding a small plastic cup which in turn held small portions of a shimmering Chardonnay. The men from our group congregated on the dock to ogle the lavish pontoon secured to it. The owner of the lavish pontoon was on board demonstrating some of its sweeter features. Our children frolicked along the water’s edge running in and out amongst the waves. My children were still wearing the life jackets from the boat ride so they only required cursory glances to make sure they weren’t doing something silly like feeding piranhas.

The overpowering heat of the holiday had brought every speed boat, fishing boat, and two-man kayak out onto the water creating a steady succession of waves crashing into the two foot breaker wall behind me. This created fun for the kids but I was finding it difficult to hold my position in the shallow water as each wave erroded the sand from under my feet. The waves were not tall but frequent enough to be a nuisance.

Perhaps our friend, Ingrid, sister to the lavish pontoon owner, had anticipated this and that is why she stationed herself cock-eyed in a green, plastic chair in the grass a few feet beyond the beaker wall. Or, perhaps her immense irritation and anger with her husband had made her a little less sociable than usual. I had suffered in the sun on our beat-up-yet-trusty pontoon ride across the lake making me more tolerant of the waves and more reluctant to join Ingrid in the grass.

I glanced around to watch the children playing in the water. I noticed Ingrid’s youngest son, Andy, 3 years old, was also out playing in the waves with the older kids with ages ranging up to 9 years. Quickly, I reassured myself that my kids still had on their life jackets because the quickness of the darkening water at the edge indicated to me that there was a drop off.

I try not to be a judgmental person especially when it comes to mothering. I am sure I suffer many silent judgements from those who don’t understand the peculiarities of my oldest son who looks like all the other children but isn’t quite the same. I didn’t comment or give a Southern compliment when I noted that Andy was out in nearly neck deep water without a life jacket. The boy being only 3 would not be able to walk back up to the shoreline if he got in too deep. Instead of imposing my opinion, I watched Andy myself very closely, just in case. I was relieved to hear Ingrid command Andy to return to shallower waters.

Andy’s brother Christian was up on the lavish pontoon throwing items all around as though he were looking for something. Ingrid turned her attention toward Andy’s brother and yelled something that I didn’t listen to because I wanted to keep my eagle eye on Andy. Then the water level was up above Andy’s mouth.

I threw down my cup as my mind went blank. I had no thoughts but was zeroed in on Andy’s little white head that looked like a fishing bobber floating on the water. My eyes locked with Andy’s drawing me to him like a magnet.

He didn’t make a sound. He wasn’t thrashing around in the water. It was like he was just waiting for someone. If I had not been watching for how deep he was in the water, I probably would not have noticed him because he was so still.

I don’t recall if I walked or ran. I didn’t take time to consider that I was fully dressed (no bathing suit). I didn’t wait to see if any of the others, all previously lifeguards in their 20’s, were headed in to get him. I heard Ingrid say or do something but I didn’t register what it was.

I do recall a few things. I recall being locked into getting to the child. I recall wondering how many seconds he could be under the water like that before he drowned. I recall that at one point the water was deep enough that I began swimming and worried that I would cause a wave to hit him in the face. I recall thinking, no, feeling, “Get the child.”

I reached under the water and grabbed his legs just under his rear end and hugged him to me as I stood up. Immediately, I heard sounds of coughing which I took as a positive sign that I had reached him in time. Just as we swung around Ingrid was beside me saying, “Thank you, Stephanie.”

I walked back to the group of ladies snatching my floating cup from the water along the way. With water dripping from me everywhere I thrust my cup out to one of the guys and said, “I think I’ll have another one.”

I looked over at Ingrid sitting on the breaker walk with Andy clutched closely to her chest. She looked miserable but I didn’t blame her. We’ve all sat on the beach together. Sometimes we’re angry with our spouses. Sometimes we didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Sometimes we get distracted by other children. Sometimes we have friends who impose their company on us when we just aren’t in the mood. One great thing about us is that we keep an eye out for each others children.

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I Accidentally Tri-ed

It started with a library book. When I read a good book, I can’t put it down until it is finished. I stayed up till nearly 1AM Tuesday night reading my library book even though I had 10 more days before it needed to be returned. Staying up till 1 am to read made me very unwilling to wake up at 5 am to run. My easy fix was to run after work when the hubby and kids were far, far away.

Once I got home from work that library book started staring me down. It said in a lilting voice, “It’d be a shame to miss out on all that uninterrupted reading time on the train Friday night.”  It was nagging me.  I had to go to the library.  But how to co-ordinate it with my run?

Should I run with the books? No.

Should I carry them in a pack? No.

Should I return them now and get a new one when I’m done? Sweaty? Eew.

Should I take a long warm up walk? Maybe…?

What about when I leave the library? Walk back home?

I was whining to myself about how long that would take when the answer, had it been a snake, bit me.

Hello?!? Bicycle!

Twenty minutes later, the bike was back in the garage, the new library books were on the counter, and my VFFs and I were off running through the town. It ended up being a mile shorter than I wanted but it was nice having that errand taken care of.  Books can be sooo persistent. 

With just one mile left to go, my plan was to take off my VFFs. I would just run a couple of blocks then walk the rest of the way if my pampered toes could handle it. To my delight, the concrete felt like velvet against my skin. I ran the entire last mile home in my bare feet. I even got whistled at!

I was soaking in sweat when my feet hit the driveway. I needed/wanted a rapid cool down. I popped open the pool gate and climbed into the pool with all my running gear still on. (except the VFFs!) It was sensational.

It struck me funny because I rode my bike, ran, and was now swimming. It was a mini tri-event. Ok, my pool is a circular, above ground pool that makes swimming laps pointless so it was more like frolicking than swimming.

Regardless, thanks to that library book tempting me then nagging me, I completed a tri event! On accident!

Accidental Tri
2 miles on bike
5.3 miles running (1 mile was bare)
Several minutes frolicking

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